BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Avery Tibbets, daughter of Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets IV, deputy commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, recently turned a high school senior project into a meaningful endeavor for military children. The project, a requirement for graduation, details the struggle of military children while a parent is away on deployment.
“At first I really struggled with what I wanted to do, but my parents brought up the idea of relaying what I’ve gone through growing up,” Avery said. “I wanted to do something different and close to my heart. For that reason, I chose writing a book about my experiences as a military child and wanted to get that message out to other military children. I felt it was important to do something from that perspective.”
Entitled “While Daddy’s Away,” the book tells the story of an unnamed little girl who is saddened by the absence of her deployed father. The book details all of the activities that help her cope until his return.
“I think the most important message of the book is that even though deployment can be a big struggle, there are ways to cope until you get to the best part: when your parent finally gets to come home,” Avery said.
Avery and her family moved to Bossier City, Louisiana, shortly before school started after her father took the post of deputy commander. She did not know about the requirement by Bossier Parish Schools to do a senior project. Once the project was approved by a senior project committee made up faculty members at Parkway High School, Avery started on her first draft.
“I started the project a little over a month ago and the writing took about a quarter of that time,” Avery said. “The biggest challenge was finding an illustrator. We have a friend that is in publishing and he told us about a website. It was a little bit of a struggle to find someone willing to do it for the price we requested.”
In addition to the book, Avery has other requirements to meet in order to complete her project. According to her, the most meaningful requirement was getting the chance to read the book to military children at the Child Development Center at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. Both during and after the reading Avery took questions from preschool-aged children about the book and her experiences.
Other requirements include an eight-to-ten-page research paper on the resiliency of military children, a four-piece presentation as well as other products showcasing her work at a school fair. Although the book serves as the primary focus of her effort, the final grade may not be the stopping point for the project.
“There is nothing official yet, but we’re looking at getting the book published sometime in the future,” Avery said.